In almost every Spanish city, town and village local folk culture is alive and well.
And because each part of the country can be so different from the next there’s a marvellous variety of festivals, usually falling on the day of the local patron saint.
As the celebrations are often inspired by centuries-old customs and legends, many events can be pretty zany, with food fights, marathon drumming sessions and huge, barely-controlled bonfires.
Making an appearance at a lot of these festivities are each town’s gigantes (giants) and cabezudos (big-heads), huge carnival-style papier mâché figures that can date back hundreds of years.
Here’s the best festivals in Spain:
1. Semana Santa
For atmosphere you can’t match the evening parades that take place in every Spanish city during Holy Week before Easter.
Penitents will wear robes and long, conical masks bearing the colours of their religious brotherhoods.
They’ll carry long candles and the strongest and most tireless will haul large floats with Easter scenes, like the Passion and weeping statues of the Virgin Mary.
Brass bands will play solemn marches and in many places towards the south women will sing saetas, flamenco laments.
The whole ritual is medieval, but many of the Catholic brotherhoods that organise the marches have their roots in the Counterreformation in the 16th century.